Irish Republican Poem – The Penal Days By Thomas Davis

This poem by Davis deals with the Penal Laws which further institutionalized sectarianism across colonial Ireland. In the Occupied Six Counties today, the psychology of many Unionists would indicate that the Penal Days have not gone for at least some.

The Penal Days

Oh! weep those days, the penal days,
When Ireland hopelessly complained.
Oh! weep those days, the penal days,
When godless persecution reigned;
When year by year,
For serf and peer,
Fresh cruelties were made by law,
And filled with hate,
Our senate sate
To weld anew each fetter’s flaw.
Oh! weep those days, those penal days
Their memory still on Ireland weighs.

They bribed the flock, they bribed the son,
To sell the priest and rob the sire;
Their dogs were taught alike to run
Upon the scent of wolf and friar.
Among the poor,
Or on the moor,
Were hid the pious and the true
While traitor knave,
And recreant slave,
Had riches, rank, and retinue;
And, exiled in those penal days,
Our banners over Europe blaze.

A stranger held the land and tower
Of many a noble fugitive;
No Popish lord had lordly power,
The peasant scarce had leave to live;
Above his head
A ruined shed,
No tenure but a tyrant’s will
Forbid to plead,
Forbid to read
Disarmed, disfranchised, imbecile
What wonder if our step betrays
The freedman, born in penal days?

They’re gone, they’re gone, those penal days!
All creeds are equal in our isle;
Then grant, O Lord, thy plenteous grace,
Our ancient feuds to reconcile.
Let all atone
For blood and groan,
For dark revenge and open wrong;
Let all unite
For Ireland’s right,
And drown our griefs in freedom’s song;
Till time shall veil in twilight haze,
The memory of those penal days.

Thomas Davis

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